It was a summer bill in Budapest that changed the Hungarian gambling laws and altered the casino landscape throughout the country, but it could be that occurrences somewhere else entirely could change it further.
Indeed, the recent motion proposed by UK and Gibraltar MEP Ashley Fox could make the industry far more attractive to outside investment.
The June legal changes introduced a new licensing procedure for casinos and online casinos in Hungary. Operators are now able to buy a 5 year license to provide gaming services in the country for HUF 100 million a year, plus a bi-weekly 20% tax and a 2.5% levy that would be assessed every 3 months. These measures were seen as prohibitively expensive by operators, and as such not a single license has been applied for nor granted.
The European Union report, therefore, is potentially good news for operators looking to take advantage of the Hungarian market. With the bill aiming to promote closer co-operation between EU member states on all matters gambling related and more transparent licensing procedures, operators could find it easier to compete. However, there are some criticisms that the bill is only intended to protect the interests of the large Gibraltar based online gambling market.
Indeed, with the growth in popularity of mobile casinos in particular, the UK’s potential law changes have resulted in mainly silence, except for the Gibraltar based William Hill. As such, any potential tax take the Hungarian government hopes to bring in from these casinos could be negated should the bill be interpreted to allow foreign based online casinos unrestricted access to EU member states.
With government estimates putting potential tax income expectations as high as HUF 10 billion a year, this could be a major setback. It remains to be seen if any gambling operators see the Hungarian market as having enough potential to spend the fees placed upon licenses by the state.